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26 March 2010- CITES Conference Wraps Up in Doha - Sharks lose out to politics      

CITES Conference Wraps Up in Doha - Sharks lose out to politics

Doha, Qatar (26 March 2010)                                                                                                                                                                   

Today the 15th Conference of Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) wrapped up in Doha, Qatar with major disappointments for marine species.

The two-week meeting covered a wide range of issues. Notable successes at the meeting include the ban of international trade for the critically endangered Kaiser’s newt, the regulation of the international pet trade for tree frogs and the regulation of international trade for a number of Madagascan plants. In addition, positive steps were made towards elephant conservation, with no further sales of ivory agreed to at the meeting, and Tanzania and Zambia’s elephant populations remaining on Appendix I.

The meeting was dominated by a number of discussions on marine species, and four proposals for the inclusion of a number of shark species, to regulate the international trade in shark products including their meat and fins. This trade is threatening the conservation status of many shark species worldwide.  Sadly, the decision to adopt the proposal to list the porbeagle shark in Appendix II earlier this week was today overturned in the final plenary session and efforts to get hammerhead sharks listed under CITES also failed.

HSI is incredibly disappointed at the rejection of all four shark proposals at this year’s CITES meeting” said Alexia Wellbelove of Humane Society International. “The short-sightedness of many of the countries at this meeting will result in the continuation of pressure from trade impacting on our shark populations worldwide. This is despite the clear threat facing these species, and the clear role that CITES could play in addition to that of Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs).”

An Appendix II listing is a measure to enable regulation of international trade to help ensure sustainability. A vote against these proposals is essentially a vote in support of unsustainable and inhumane practices including shark finning” said Rebecca Regnery of The Humane Society of the United States. “It is clear that the opposition wants to keep commercially important marine species out of CITES at all costs. Public sentiment is firmly on our side, however sadly that didn’t make enough of a difference at this meeting.”

Proposals to ban the trade in polar bear products also failed to get adopted by the member countries. In addition, efforts to ban trade in Atlantic bluefin tuna (ABT) were also shut down following intense lobbying by Japan and a number of other countries. Australia was also opposed to a global ABT fisheries ban.

The short-sighted behaviour of Japan and its allies regarding the future of the Atlantic bluefin tuna and the shark species is a sad development for conservation. HSI has serious concerns regarding political will at the RFMOS to effectively protect these species, and questions whether we can rely on these organisations to save the Atlantic bluefin tuna and shark species without help from CITES” continued Alexia Wellbelove. “It is a sad day for our sharks when politics triumphs over conservation and science”.

HSI urges conservation-minded countries to fight back to ensure that science wins out over politics and commercial interests at the next CITES meeting in three years time”, concluded Ms Wellbelove.


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